50 Facts About Every Candy in Your Bag

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Haul of Fame: From Reese's to Twizzlers, some candies are guaranteed to end up in your bag this Halloween. Unwrap these tidbits about a few of the most popular sugary treats.

1. OVER 200 MILLION SKITTLES ARE PRODUCED DAILY.

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The colorful treats were originally imported when they were first sold in 1979. Today, they are manufactured in the United States—by the millions.

2. MILK DUDS WERE NAMED AFTER A FLUKE.

Milk Duds
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Instead of the symmetric candies they were intended to be, the first batch of this chocolate caramel candy came out of machinery oval-shaped. When an employee F. Hoffman & Company, the company producing the brand, called them “duds” and the name stuck.

3. THE MYSTERY FLAVOR OF DUM DUMS ISN’T A COMPLETE MYSTERY.

Dum Dum Lollipops
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The mixture for these lollipops, which often don wrappers with question marks, is created when the last of one batch of the candy is combined with the beginning of a new batch.

4. SWEDISH FISH ARE VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY.

Swedish Fish
C. C. Chapman, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

These vending machine staples—which first appeared in the U.S. in that late 1950s—fall in the “starch jellies” category, defined as firmer gummy candies that don’t contain any gelatin.

5. SOUR PATCH KIDS HAVE OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ORIGINS.

Sour Patch Kids
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Initially dubbed Mars Men, these Canadian creations were inspired by the growing fascination with UFOs in the '70s. However, when they made their way to the U.S. in 1985, the name was changed to Sour Patch Kids, to reflect a more timely American obsession: Cabbage Patch Kids.

6. MIKE AND IKE ARE FICTIONAL.

Mike and Ike
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The fruit-inspired sweets from the Just Born company aren't named after real people, according to the brand. But that hasn't stopped fans from coming up with their own theories about the inspiration behind the name. Some believe Mike and Ike is a reference to a popular vaudeville act, while others attribute it to a 1937 song “Mike and Ike (The Twins).”

7. THE “LOLLI” IN LOLLIPOP PROBABLY DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT DOES.

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While many believe that the word for the handheld candy comes from ice-lollies (also known as ice pops or popsicles), which hang downward as they melt, that’s not the case. Instead, lolly is an Old English dialect term for the tongue.

8. DOVE CHOCOLATE IS THE MOST POPULAR CANDY IN CHINA.

Dove chocolate
Frazer Harrison // Staff // Getty Images

The chocolate company may be headquartered in the United States, but it scores high marks overseas. By some estimates, about 34 percent of the chocolate consumed in China is made by Dove.

9. KIT KATS WERE ORIGINALLY CREATED TO BE CONSUMED WITH TEA.

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Early marketing for the popular wafer candy focusing on selling the Kit Kat as a meal, but the company also encouraged customers to treat it as a snack. One example: a Kit Kat slogan that called the treat “the best companion to a cup of tea.”

10. CANDY CORN STARTED OUT AS “CHICKEN FEED.”

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The colors of the popular Halloween candy are inspired by the shades of actual corn kernels.

11. YOUR FAVORITE PROBABLY MAKES AN APPEARANCE IN THE GUINNESS RECORD-HOLDING LARGEST COLLECTION OF CANDY WRAPPERS.

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For more than three decades, Milan Lukich Valdivia from Tacna, Peru, amassed a total of 5065 candy wrappers from 49 countries. The collection claimed the title in 2015.

12. FRINGE LOVERS FAN OUT OVER RED VINES.

Red vines
Nik Pawlak, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When the Fox sci-fi series—which ran from 2008 to 2013—was in danger of not having a fourth season, fans sent the studio a sweet surprise: 200 cases of Red Vines, a favorite of one of the characters on the show. And it worked. The show eventually went off the air after five seasons.

13. TOOTSIE ROLLS HELPED PERK UP WORLD WAR II SOLDIERS.

Tootsie Rolls

Treasured for their ability to withstand hot weather and stay in mint condition over time, Tootsie Rolls were seen as a small bite of “quick energy” by the U.S. military during World War II.

14. HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE HAS LANDED ON THE MOON.

Hershey's Chocolate Bar
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A heat-resistant version of the chocolate bar called the Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar was created in collaboration with the military. The treat, which could last up to an hour in 120 degree temperatures, was placed aboard Apollo 15 in 1971.

15. ACROSS THE COUNTRY, REESE’S REIGN SUPREME.

Kim Jones, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

By some estimates, Reese’s cups earn the number one spot among Halloween candy brands. In fact, Hershey sells more than $500 million worth of Reese’s annually.

16. IN GERMANY, KIDS SCORE FREE HARIBO GUMMIES ONCE A YEAR.

Haribo candy factory
The HARIBO candy factory is located in Bonn, western Germany.
PATRIK STOLLARZ / Staff // Getty Images

Every October, a tradition that started in the 1930s continues: Kids can visit the Haribo headquarters to trade in acorns and chestnuts for free gummy treats.

17. YOU PROBABLY REACH FOR MIKE AND IKE AT THE MOVIES.

Mike & Ike
Alex Guerrero, Flickr // CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The candy brand is the best-selling non-chocolate candy at movie theaters—and has commanded that spot for years.

18. CHOCOLATE SHOULD BE STORED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

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Experts warn that storing your sweet stuff in the fridge will lead to condensation. “Water is the enemy of chocolate,” Andrew Black of MAST Chocolate—the New York-based bean-to-bar chocolate makers—told Mental Floss.

19. AT THE NEW JERSEY FACTORY, 2 BILLION M&M’S ARE PRODUCED EVERY EIGHT HOURS.

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That means that 69,000 of the mini chocolates are manufactured every second.

20. HERSHEY'S KISSES STARTED OUT AS A LABOR OF LOVE.

Hershey's Kisses
Lori & Todd, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1907, when the drop-sized chocolate candies were first introduced, workers wrapped each one by hand.

21. HARIBO TREATS DELIGHT IN DENMARK.

Haribo gummies
PATRIK STOLLARZ / Staff // Getty Images

The company, notorious for their gummy bears, is the most popular candy brand among Danes. But residents of Denmark are known for having a sweet tooth in general. Compared to the average European, each Danish citizen eats twice as much sweets, at an average of 18 pounds annually.

22. MILKY WAYS DIDN'T ALWAYS INCLUDE CARAMEL.

Milky Way
Amy the Nurse, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s hard to believe that the candy bar’s most well-known feature wasn't always there, but the original ingredients included eggs, sugar, and air.

23. YOU WON’T FIND FIZZL’D FRUITS SKITTLES.

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You might be able to “taste the rainbow” by way of six flavor sets of Skittles, but the Fizzl’d Fruits isn't one of them. The powder-covered Skittles were discontinued in 2012.

24. MILK CHOCOLATE WAS CREATED BY THE SWISS.

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After attempting to combine milk with chocolate for eight years, Switzerland-based confectioner Daniel Peter finally discovered the necessary ingredient to make the combo work in 1870: condensed milk, made by his neighbor Henri Nestlé.

25. PEZ CANDIES PACK IN A LOT OF PRESSURE.

Pez candy
Dave Lawler, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

3000 pounds, to be exact. That’s what it takes to turn the raw ingredients of the sugary treat into Pez candy.

26. CARAMEL AND BUTTERSCOTCH ARE SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME.

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Caramel hard candies
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Both mixtures include melted sugar, vanilla, and butter. But while caramel is based in white granulated sugar, butterscotch uses brown sugar instead.

27. BEING ABLE TO HOLD A PEZ DISPENSER WITH ONE HAND WAS A DESIGN GOAL.

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The flip-top dispenser has a very deliberate design. According to the original patent, the one-hand opening was “important not only for persons having only one hand but also persons who often have only one hand free (for example motor-vehicle drivers), or whose occupation causes their hands to become smeared with dirt.”

28. REESE’S PIECES WEREN’T ALWAYS REESE’S PIECES.

Reese's Pieces
Ravi Shah, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Hershey debuted the bite-sized peanut butter cups in 1978 with the name PBs before they were eventually renamed Reese's Pieces.

29. THERE’S A REASON HARIBO’S GUMMIES ARE BEAR-SHAPED.

Haribo gummies
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Founder Hans Riegel was inspired by the festivals in his home country of Germany and the dancing bears beloved by children at those celebrations.

30. EVERY YEAR ABOUT ONE MILLION MILES OF TWIZZLERS ARE PRODUCED.

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That’s nearly 76 times the length of the Great Wall of China.

31. THERE IS A DUM DUMS LOLLIPOP MASCOT.

Dum Dums
Sarah Browning, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Conceptualized in 1966, the Drum Man travels across the country, waving with his white-gloved hands and spreading the word about Dum Dums.

32. STARBURSTS ARE AVAILABLE IN ALL-PINK SETS.

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Starburst

But you’ll probably have to hit eBay to find them. The limited edition strawberry-only packs were released for a short run in April 2017.

33. THE JOLLY RANCHER NAME HAS SWEET INTENTIONS.

Jolly Ranchers
Dave Kirkman, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

According to the company, the name Jolly Rancher was chosen for these bright-colored treats “to suggest a hospitable, western company.”

34. LAFFY TAFFY AND RUNTS WERE BOTH LAUNCHED BY A CLASSIC FILM.

Laffy Taffys
Jasmin Fine, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which was financed by Quaker Oats) brought both attention and sales to the sweet treats featured on-screen.

35. TODAY'S SNICKERS ARE SLIGHTLY SLIMMER.

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In 2013, candy empire Mars Inc. put all of their chocolate products on a diet, promising to only sell sweets that were 250 calories or less. That meant fans had to say goodbye to king-sized versions of their favorite treats and also that the regular-sized, 280-calorie Snickers bar got a makeover.

36. IN CANADA, SMARTIES ARE KNOWN AS ROCKETS.

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The treats (which pack in 25 calories per roll) are produced 24 hours a day in New Jersey and Ontario, but they have different names in each location. 

37. CHEWING GUM CAN HELP PREVENT SONGS FROM GETTING STUCK IN YOUR HEAD.

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Gum can do more than occupy your mouth, it can also help occupy your mind. According to scientists from the U.K.'s University of Redding, chowing down on the sticky substance helps to temporarily degrade your short-term memory, making it easier to shake off a tune that you can't stop thinking about.

38. BUTTERFINGER COMMERCIALS INTRODUCED MANY PEOPLE TO THE SIMPSONS CHARACTERS.

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The iconic TV family didn't make their first appearance on the silver screen when The Simpsons premiered on Fox in 1989. The characters actually started on the comedy variety series The Tracey Ullman Show and likely picked up their biggest audience when they starred in Butterfinger commercials in 1988.

39. ALL OF THE SUGAR IN YOUR HERSHEY'S TREAT WILL BE SUSTAINABLY SOURCED BY 2020.

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In May 2016, the company announced plans to establish "rigorous standards to ensure sugar has been responsibly grown and harvested." There are also plans to sustainably source 100 percent of its cocoa by the deadline as well, up from 50 percent in 2016.

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The fruit leather-inspired snack got a shout-out from the popular sitcom in 2000.

40. JELLY BELLY'S VOMIT-FLAVORED JELLY BEAN WAS BORN WHILE TRYING TO MAKE A PIZZA-FLAVORED VARIETY.

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While the process for created a unconventional Jelly Belly flavor is elaborate and thorough, sometimes there are happy accidents.

41. MILKY WAY BARS STARTED OUT SUPERSIZED.

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The original Milky Way treats weighed more than 3 ounces, compared to the just over 1.8 ounces that they are today. The reasoning: Mars Company founder Forrest Mars thought his treats would quite literally overshadow their Hershey bar competitors. He once said, “People walked up to the candy counter and they’d see this flat little Hershey bar for a nickel and right next to it, a giant Milky Way. Guess which one they’d pick?”

42. IN THE LATE 1980S, THERE WAS A NERDS CEREAL.

A 1986 commercial introduced fans of the sugary treat to Nerds cereal, which featured two flavors in one box and spouts on each side. After disappointing sales, the product was removed from shelves.

43. COWS MAY LIKE CANDY AS MUCH AS WE DO.

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For years, companies have been selling off their defective sweets (like Skittles, gummy worms, and dried fruit) to farms. With increasing prices for corn feed and other traditional cattle food, these treats are a cheaper alternative to fill the animals' starchy sugar needs.

44. BUTTERFINGERS WERE THE FOLLOW-UP TO BABY RUTH CANDY BARS.

Both chocolate bars are products of Curtiss Candy, a company that was once one of the largest candy competitors in the business.

45. SOUR PATCH KIDS ARE TONGUE-ACTIVATED.

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The ingredient list for Sour Patch Kids includes citric and tartaric acids, both full of protons that allow our tongues to recognize the sour flavor. When you pop a Sour Patch Kid into your mouth, those ingredients mix with saliva and the protons increase, upping the sour flavor.

46. ACROSS THE WORLD, NOT ALL KIT KATS ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Kit Kat Switzerland Singles
Kit Kat Singles are sold in Switzerland.
FABRICE COFFRINI / Staff // Getty Images

The number of “fingers” varies from country to country. Aussie Kit Kat fans can enjoy a 12-finger block, while those in the Middle East are used to Kit Kats sold with three fingers.

47. MARS BARS ARE AVAILABLE IN A SPREADABLE FORM.

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The Mars bounty spread mimics the flavors of the candy bar, including coconut flakes.

48. HEATH BARS WERE ORIGINALLY MARKETED AS A HEALTHY TREAT.

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The candy—a combination of butter, sugar, almonds, and milk chocolate— was once thought to pep a person up.

49. THE CREATORS OF AIRHEADS REPORTEDLY ONCE TRIED TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE: MAKE A SUCCESSFUL GRAPE ICE CREAM.

Airheads
Special, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Unfortunately, it wasn't successful. Just like similar products from other companies that have made the attempt, including Ben & Jerry's, Airheads’s grape flavor didn't fly off the shelves. Though it’s possible to make the ice cream flavor on a large scale, there’s a reason it will probably never become more popular.

50. OCTOBER 28 IS A BIG DAY FOR CANDY CORN.

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The official National Candy Corn day might be October 30, but according to sales, it’s unofficially on October 28, the day when the largest amount of the tri-colored candy is sold.

14 Secrets of McDonald's Employees

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

While there’s virtually no end to the number of fast food options for people seeking a quick meal, none have entered the public consciousness quite like McDonald’s. Originally a barbecue shop with a limited menu when it was founded by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in the 1940s, the Golden Arches have grown into a franchised behemoth with more than 36,000 locations worldwide.

Staffing those busy kitchens and registers are nearly 2 million McDonald's employees. To get a better idea of what many consider to be the most popular entry-level job in the nation—staff members on the floor make an average of $9 an hour—we asked several workers to share details of their experiences with errant ice cream machines, drive-through protocols, and special requests. Here’s what they had to say about life behind the counter.

1. McDonald's employees can't always deliver fast food all that fast.

While McDonald’s and other fast-service restaurants pride themselves on getting customers on their way, some menu items just don’t lend themselves to record service times. According to Bob, an assistant store manager at a McDonald’s in the Midwest, pies take an average of 10 to 12 minutes to prepare; grilled chicken, 10 minutes; and biscuits for Egg McMuffins, eight to 10 minutes. In the mood for something light, like a grilled chicken and salad? That will take a few minutes, too. Bob says salads are pre-made with lettuce but still need to have chicken and other ingredients added.

The labor-intensive nature of assembling ingredients is part of why the chain has more recently shied away from menu items with too many ingredients. “We are trained to go as fast down the line as we can, and if we have to stop to make something that has 10 ingredients, it tends to slow things down,” Bob tells Mental Floss. “Corporate has realized this and has taken many of these items off in recent years, [like] McWraps, Clubhouse, more recently the Smokehouse and mushroom and Swiss and moved to items that can go a lot quicker.”

2. McDonald's workers wish you’d stop asking for fries without salt.

A serving of McDonald's French fries is pictured
Joerg Koch, AFP/Getty Images

A common “trick” for customers seeking fresh fries is to ask for them without salt. The idea is that fries that have been under a heating lamp will already be salted and that the employee in the kitchen will need to put down a new batch in the fryer. This does work, but customers can also just ask for fresh fries. It’s less of a hassle and may even save employees some discomfort.

“People can ask for fresh fries and it's actually way easier to do fresh fries rather than no-salt fries,” Andy, an employee who’s worked at three different McDonald’s locations in the Midwest, tells Mental Floss. “For those, we have to pour the fries onto a tray from the fryer so they don't come in contact with salt. It can get awkward sometimes getting everything into position, especially if you have a lot of people working in close proximity and it's busy, so I've had some scalded hands a couple of times trying to get fries out in a timely way.”

3. McDonald's workers have to pay careful attention to the order of ingredients.

McDonald’s is pretty specific about how their burgers and other items are supposed to be assembled, with layers—meat, cheese, sauce—arranged in a specific order. If they mess it up, customers can notice. “In some cases it has a big impact,” Sam, a department manager and nine-year veteran of the restaurant in Canada, tells Mental Floss. “Like placing the cheese between the patties with a McDouble. If they don’t put the cheese between the patties, the cheese won’t melt.”

4. There’s a reason McDonald’s employees ask you to park at the drive-through.

A McDonald's customer pulls up to the drive-thru window
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

After ordering at the drive-through window, you may be slightly puzzled when a cashier asks you to pull into one of the designated parking spots. That’s because employees are measured on how quickly they process cars at the drive-through. If your order is taking a long time to prepare, they’ll take you out of the queue to keep the line moving. “My store has sensors in the drive-through that actually tell us exactly how long you are at each spot in the drive-through,” Bob says. “We get measured based on something we call OEPE. Order end, present end. [That measures] from the second that your tires move from the speaker until your back tires pass over the sensor on the present window. My store is expected to be under two minutes.” If an order will take longer than that, you'll be asked to park.

5. The McDonald's drive-through employees can hear everything going on in your car.

While the quality of the speakers at a drive-through window can vary, it’s best to assume employees inside the restaurant can hear everything happening in your car even before you place an order. “The speaker is activated by the metal in the car, so as soon as you drive up, the speaker turns on in our headset,” Andy says. “We can hear everything, and I do mean everything. Loud music, yelling at your kids to shut up, etc.”

6. The employees at McDonald’s like their regulars.

Customers eat inside of a McDonald's with an order of French fries in the foreground
Chris Hondros, Getty Images

With hot coffee, plenty of tables, Wi-Fi, and newspapers, McDonald’s can wind up being a popular hang-out for repeat customers. “[We have] a ton of regulars who come into my store,” Bob says. “I'd say at least 75 percent of my daily customers know us all by name and we know them all, too. It makes it nice and makes the service feel a lot more personal when a customer can walk into my location, and we can look them in the eye and say, ‘Hey Mark! Getting the usual today?’ and we've already started making his coffee exactly how he takes it.”

7. McDonald’s staff get prank calls.

Unless they’re trying to cater an event, customers usually don’t have any reason to phone a McDonald’s. When the phone rings, employees brace themselves. In addition to sometimes being asked a legitimate question like when the store closes, Sam says his store gets a lot of prank calls. “Sometimes it’s people asking about directions to Wendy’s,” he says. “A lot of inappropriate ones. Most are pretty lame.”

8. For a McDonald’s worker, the ice cream machine is like automated stress.

A McDonald's customer is handed an ice cream cone at the drive-thru window
iStock/jax10289

The internet is full of stories of frustrated McDonald’s customers who believe the chain’s ice cream machines are always inoperable. That’s not entirely true, but the machine does experience a lot of downtime. According to Bob, that’s because it’s always in need of maintenance. “The thing is, it is a very sensitive machine,” he says. “It's not made to be making 50 cones in a row, or 10 shakes at a time. It takes time for the mix to freeze to a proper consistency. It also requires a daily heat mode, [where] the whole machine heats up to about 130 degrees or so. The heat mode typically takes about four hours to complete, so you try to schedule it during the slowest time.” Stores also need to take the machine entirely apart every one to two weeks to clean it thoroughly.

Bob adds that the machine’s O-rings can crack or tear, rendering the unit inoperable. Seasoned workers can tell if a unit is faulty by the consistency of the shakes or ice cream coming out, and sometimes by the noises it makes.

9. McDonald's employees don't mind if you order a grilled cheese.

Contrary to rumor, there’s no “secret menu” at McDonald’s. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes snag something not listed on the board. Andy says a lot of people order a grilled cheese sandwich. “I've made many a grilled cheese before,” he says. But it’s not without consequences. “Sometimes it can get a bit risky doing it because the bun toaster wasn't designed to make grilled cheeses so sometimes you get some burnt buns or cheese or the cheese sticks inside and it slows down the other buns from getting out on time so that causes more burnt buns.”

Another common request is for customers to ask for a McDouble dressed as a Big Mac, with added Big Mac sauce and shredded lettuce. “I think [it’s] a way more practical way to eat a Big Mac since there's less bun in the way, and it's also way cheaper even if you do get charged for Mac sauce.”

10. McDonald’s workers recommend always checking your order.

A McDonald's employee serves an order
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Nothing stings worse than the revelation that an employee has forgotten part of your food order. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not because the employees are being lazy or inattentive. According to Bob, it’s simply due to the volume of customers a typical location has to process in a given day. “We are human,” he says. “Mistakes do happen. We always feel terrible when they do but when we serve 1000-plus people a day, it's bound to happen.”

Bob recommends checking your bag before leaving the restaurant and not taking it personally if there’s an issue. “Be nice to us if you have a problem,” he says. “It's a huge difference between coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, I seem to be missing a fry from my bag,’ and ‘You bastards didn't give me my fries!’” If you want to check your bag at the drive-through, though, he recommends trying to pull ahead so cars behind you can move forward.

11. McDonald's employees don't recommend the grilled chicken.

If a menu item isn’t all that popular, it can wind up experiencing a low rate of turnover. Of all the food at McDonald’s, the most neglected might be the grilled chicken. Because it doesn't move quickly, workers find that it can turn unappetizing in a hurry. “That stuff has a supposed shelf life of 60 minutes in the heated cabinet, but it dries out so quickly that even if it's within an acceptable time frame, it looks like burnt rubber, and probably tastes like it, too,” Andy says.

12. Golden Arches employees aren’t crazy about Happy Meal collectors.

A McDonald's Happy Meal is pictured
David Morris, Getty Images

Happy Meals are boxed combos that come with a toy inside. Usually, it’s tied into some kind of movie promotion. That means both Happy Meal collectors and fans of a given entertainment property can swarm stores looking for the product. “The biggest pain involving the Happy Meals is the people who collect them,” Bob says. “I personally hate trying to dig through the toys looking for one specific one. We usually only have one to three toys on hand. It's especially a pain in the butt during big toys events such as the Avengers one we just had. There was like 26 different toys, and some customers get really mad when you don't have the one that they want.”

And no, employees don’t usually take home leftover toys. They’ve saved for future use as a substitute in case a location runs out of toys for their current promotion.

13. McDonald's employees can’t mess with Monopoly.

The McDonald’s Monopoly promotion has been a perennial success for the chain, with game pieces affixed to drink cups and fry containers. But if you think employees spend their spare time peeling the pieces off cups looking for prizes, think again. Following a widely-publicized scandal in 2000 that saw an employee of the company that printed the pieces intercepting them for his own gain, the chain has pretty strict rules about the promotion. “Monopoly pieces and things like them get sent back to corporate,” Bob says. “We aren't allowed to touch them, open them, or redeem them as employees.”

14. One McDonald's worker admits there have been sign mishaps.

A McDonald's sign is pictured
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

Many McDonald’s locations sport signs under the arches advertising specials or promotions. Some are analog, with letters that need to be mounted and replaced. Others have LED screens. Either way, there can be mistakes. “I've never seen anyone mess around with the letters,” Andy says. “But I do remember one time we were serving the Angus Burgers and the ‘G’ fell off of the word ‘Angus.’ Good times.”

The Reason Why It's Technically Against State Rules to Sell LaCroix in Massachusetts

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

No one is quite certain what goes into LaCroix (“La-croy”), the carbonated water that’s become a popular alternative to soft drinks. The zero-calorie beverage comes in several distinctive fruit flavors that the drink’s parent company, National Beverage, has described as being derived from “natural essence oils.” That highly secretive process is believed to be the result of heating fruits and vegetables, then making a concentrate out of the vapor.

To try and crack the mystery, Consumer Reports recently approached officials in Massachusetts with a public records request for documentation relating to LaCroix. Massachusetts is one of the few states requiring manufacturers of carbonated water to obtain a permit and submit water quality tests to sell their product.

The verdict? Consumer Reports still isn’t quite sure what goes into LaCroix. But it might be technically against state regulations to sell it in Massachusetts. That’s because the state has no records on file for the mystery refreshment.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health could not find a permit for LaCroix, and there were no water quality test results on hand, either. Without those documents, the drink should technically not be for sale in the state. After noticing the oversight, Massachusetts sent a request to National Beverage for the necessary information. If the company fails to comply, the state could end up fining them or banning the sale of the drink. A spokesperson for National Beverage told Consumer Reports the company intended to comply with the request.

Why does the state need any information at all? Thanks to some bureaucratic quibbling, carbonated water products are treated differently than bottled water by regulatory agencies. The Food and Drug Administration considers carbonated beverages like seltzer and flavored sparkling water to fall under the heading of soft drinks. While the FDA mandates certain manufacturing standards for those drinks, it doesn’t apply the same rules as it does for bottled water, which is expected to adhere to strict rules about contaminants and quality testing. That leaves certain states like Massachusetts to conduct their own quality assessments.

There’s no guarantee that such testing will divulge LaCroix’s secret to their flavoring process, which is likely to remain a mystery.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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